Best of our wild blogs: 26 Apr 19

Singapore is bankrolling haze
People's Movement to Stop Haze

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Lab-grown shrimp dumplings: Clean, sustainable and cruelty-free

Shabana Begum Straits Times 25 Apr 19;

SINGAPORE - The yellow dumpling looks and tastes like shrimp, according to the few people who have tasted it, yet the mince inside it cost more to produce than the priciest abalone.

Its filling did not come from the sea, but was created using shrimp stem cells in a local lab.

Shiok Meats, the region's first cell-based seafood company, launched its first creation, lab-grown shrimp dumplings, in March.

It took the eight-month-old company months of trial and error and $5,000 to make just eight dumplings using cell-cultured shrimp, according to its co-founder and chief executive officer Sandhya Sriram.

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Malaysia: Simpang Renggam water treatment plant closed indefinitely due to high ammonia readings, says Johor exco

Malay Mail 25 Apr 19;

JOHOR BARU, April 25 — The Water Treatment Plant (LRA) at Simpang Renggam was shut down on Tuesday due to high ammonia content readings, exceeding the level permitted by the Health Ministry.

Johor International Trade, Investments and Utilities committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse said that the pollution had affected 15,000 account holders in Simpang Renggam and 8,000 in Pontian as a result of the water supply disruption.

He said pollution was believed to have occurred as leachate seeped when the embankments of the CEP 1 Simpang Renggam discharge pond broke because of heavy rains.

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Malaysia: Peat fire razes 420ha of forest near Kuantan, firemen still battling blaze

The Star 25 Apr 19;

KUANTAN (Bernama): A peat soil forest fire near the Sultan Ahmad Shah Maritime Academy (AMSAS) in Sungai Ular here razed 420ha of forest Thursday (April 25), compared to 40ha last week.

Pahang Fire and Rescue Department director Nor Hisham Mohammad said the absence of an entry road, limited water source and wind movements were among the difficulties faced by the department in an operation to douse the fire.

He said that, other than AMSAS, two other areas were affected by thick smoke from the fire - the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park and Sungai Baging here.

"The main focus in the operation to put out the fire is in the Sungai Baging area because there is a school and housing estate where the air pollutant index (API) is touching 300, namely, not healthy.

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Malaysia: WWF-Malaysia wants Putrajaya to set up National Tiger Task Force

The Star 25 Apr 19;

PETALING JAYA: WWF-Malaysia Thursday (April 25) urged the government to consider setting up a National Tiger Task Force to address the ongoing issue of poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

In a statement, Conservation Director Dr Henry Chan said the move would be a success if implemented, citing statistics of a similar task force formed in Nepal.

"The establishment of the National Tiger Conservation Committee and Wildlife Crime Control Coordination Committee in Nepal made it possible for the country to almost double its tiger numbers, as well as achieve 365 days of zero poaching for rhinos, elephants and tigers between 2013 and 2014," he said.

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Indonesia: Chinese nationals arrested for alleged pangolin scale smuggling

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 25 Apr 19;

Customs and Excise personnel in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, arrested two Chinese citizens for attempting to smuggle the scales of 44 pangolins through Kuala Namu Airport over the weekend.

Customs officers arrested the two as they were about to depart from the airport for Guangzhou on Saturday, according to Environment and Forestry Ministry security and law enforcement center (Gakkum) official Haluanto Ginting.

“The pangolin scales were hidden inside a number of items such as wallets, pockets, pillows, bags, envelopes and socks,” Haluanto told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

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Indonesia: Irrawaddy dolphin found dead in East Kalimantan river

N. Adri The Jakarta Post 25 Apr 19;

An Irrawaddy river dolphin, locally known as a pesut, was found dead in the Pela River in Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan, on Monday afternoon, it is believed to have drowned.

The 122-centimeter-long mammal, an endangered species, had been trapped in a fisherman’s net.

“Hopefully this is the last one,” said researcher Danielle Kreb of the Rare Aquatic Species Indonesia (RASI) foundation.

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Brunei: Chinese contractor takes steps to protect wildlife

Xinhua 25 Apr 19;

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Inside a remote district in Brunei that is largely uninhabited and covered with virgin forest, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) is at the final stages of constructing a bridge, which is expected to boost economic development in the area.

At the heart of Temburong, Brunei's easternmost district that hosts endemic wildlife and indigenous flora, CSCEC is proceeding with the megaproject while ensuring that minimal damage is done to the natural landscape.

Temburong, with an area of 1,306 square km and borders Limbang, Malaysia, forms part of the green lung of the island of Borneo. It is currently accessible from Brunei's capital Bandar Seri Begawan either by an hour-long ferry ride on the Brunei River or by crossing land borders.

The bridge, which is set to be the longest in Southeast Asia upon its completion, aims to connect the isolated district with the rest of the country.

CSCEC is building 11.8 km of the 30-km viaduct.

"We are doing our best not to disturb the natural environment and its inhabitants," CSCEC Environmental Officer Carin Wong Ling said.

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Philippines: Chinese trawl for giant clams - ‘Clam-destine’ thievery

Jenny Ortuoste Manila Standard 25 Apr 19;

China’s plunder of the Philippine environment continues as they trawl for giant clams in our waters.

ABS-CBN broke the news on April 15 that Chinese vessels were discovered harvesting giant clams from Panatag Shoal.

Philippine waters are part of a large marine area in the western Pacific Ocean called The Coral Triangle. Among the creatures living in this biodiverse environment are giant clams of various species of Tridacna. They are hunted for their meat, which is almost entirely pure protein; and shells, which are used as artificial ivory and for decoration.

Fishermen in the area also reported China Coast Guard speed boats guarding Chinese trawlers drive away Filipino fishing vessels attempting to enter the shoal.

This is not the first time the Chinese have done this, and in the same area. In 2015, during the administration of President Noynoy Aquino, the Department of Foreign Affairs sent a protest note to China after the Philippine Coast Guard reported some 24 Chinese utility boats taking giant clams from Bajo de Masinloc.

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In degrading Nature humanity harms itself, UN report warns

Marlowe HOOD, AFP Yahoo News 26 Apr 19;

Paris (AFP) - Diplomats and scientists from 130 nations gather in Paris next week to vet and validate the first UN global assessment of the state of Nature in more than a decade, and the news is not good.

A quarter of 100,000 species already assessed are on a path to extinction, and the total number facing a forced exit from the world stage is closer to a million, according to an executive summary, obtained by AFP, of a 1,800-page scientific report three years in the making.

A score of 10-year targets adopted in 2010 under the UN's biodiversity treaty -- to expand protected areas, slow species and forest loss, and reduce pollution impact -- will almost all fail, the draft Summary for Policy Makers reports.

But the focus of the five-day meet is not just pangolins, pandas, polar bears and the multitude of less "charismatic" lifeforms that humanity is eating, crowding or poisoning into oblivion.

Rather, the spotlight is on the one species that has so ravaged Earth's natural systems as to imperil its own existence as well.

That, of course, would be us: homo sapiens.

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Hundreds of dead dolphins wash up on French coast

AFP Yahoo News 26 Apr 19;

Nantes (France) (AFP) - A record number of dead dolphins have washed up on France's Atlantic coast in recent months after being caught in fishing nets, the Pelagis observatory said Thursday.

"We've had around 1,200 small cetaceans along the coast" of the Bay of Biscay, of which more than 90 percent were common dolphins, biologist Olivier Van Canneyt told AFP.

The observatory he works for said the number of dead dolphins had set a record each year since 2017, and warned that the species could be wiped out in the area.

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‘Death by a thousand cuts’: vast expanse of rainforest lost in 2018

Pristine forests are vital for climate and wildlife but trend of losses is rising, data shows
Damian Carrington The Guardian 25 Apr 19;

Millions of hectares of pristine tropical rainforest were destroyed in 2018, according to satellite analysis, with beef, chocolate and palm oil among the main causes.

The forests store huge amounts of carbon and are teeming with wildlife, making their protection critical to stopping runaway climate change and halting a sixth mass extinction. But deforestation is still on an upward trend, the researchers said. Although 2018 losses were lower than in 2016 and 2017, when dry conditions led to large fires, last year was the next worst since 2002, when such records began.

Clearcutting of primary forest by loggers and cattle ranchers in Brazil dominated the destruction, including invasions into indigenous lands where uncontacted tribes live. Losses were also high in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Indonesia. Indonesia is the only major country where government protections appear to be significantly reducing the losses.

Ghana and Ivory Coast recorded the biggest percentage rises in rainforest destruction, driven by gold mining and cocoa farming.

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